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Originating as an extension of the Apostolic Chancery, it is essentially a tribunal of appeal for all the ecclesiastical cases in which the Roman Curia is competent and that are not reserved to other jurisdictions. It also receives cases of appeal for Vatican City State, and is a tribunal of first instance in cases reserved to the Holy See, or that the Pope has reserved for himself by means of a special rescript of the Apostolic Signature.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.